Few poets and critics have read and responded to one another as ardently as A. R. Ammons and Harold Bloom. Their friendship, which at times had the intensity of a romance, began in the late sixties and peaked in the early seventies, though it continued until Ammons's death in 2001. Their correspondence, while full of expressions of love and admiration, also shows them affectionately tussling over the relative merits of nature and transcendence, the sublime and the everyday, with Bloom repeatedly urging Ammons to leave mundane particulars behind and mount higher into the visionary stratosphere. Ammons summed up their ongoing agon in a note after a visit to New Haven in 1973: “Harold wants me to be intense, mad, consistently high. I want to be ordinary, casual, a man of this world.” This essay examines their decades-long dialogue in letters, poems, and essays.

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